Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Inspiring An Innovation Generation - Part II- The Design Thinker Mindset

In the previous post, I suggested that there are certain qualities that make up an innovator that we need to nurture and encourage in the innovation generation. I think at this point it would be worthwhile to point out how the "innovation generation" is different from the generations that came before. The following five points are distinguishing qualities or observations:

  1. This generation besides having received traditional schooling, have also gone to school on the Internet. It is a fact that on average young people between the ages of 8 yrs and 18yrs spend more time on electronic devices than they do in classrooms. Perhaps an alarming observation is that when asked, students find the Internet a far more compelling teacher than the ones standing in front of classrooms. This should be enough motivation to change how we school young people and also suggest how we can mentor young people in dealing with online learning.
  2. This generation has an extraordinary latent talent ---and interest in--- innovation and entrepreneurship.  This is becoming very evident when you consider the growing number of teenagers who are actively engaged in creating mobile apps for phones, tablets and other devices. There is also an increased interest in learning how to code computers.
  3. On the Internet, young people act on their curiosity. One of the sad commentaries on public education is how when students enter primary grades that they are brimming over with curiosity, unusual questions and the desire to explore their world. By the time they reach middle grades, they have learned that their curiosity and creativity is to be controlled and they learn that the "right answer" is what is expected by their teachers.
  4. On the Internet they have learned to create, connect and collaborate far more than they are ever allowed to do in school.
  5. Many of this generation are more concerned with making a difference in the world rather than their parent's view for them that they should seek to join a profession and seek to increase their personal wealth. For employers the fact that getting ahead, moving up by promotion and receiving increased pay are not primary motivations for this generation leads to suggestions that some employers don't trust this generation and even suggestions that this generation is lazy. They don't share the mindset that this generation has.

Credit: Stuart Miles

In order to design effective e-learning experiences for this generation requires a re-visioning of e-learning as it presently is offered. Design thinking seems to address the qualities that we wish to nurture in the innovation generation.
Tim Brown (2008) in an article titled: "Design Thinking" which he wrote for the Harvard Business Review described some insightful traits that we should consider when designing e-learning for this generation. They are as follows:

  1. Empathy-- this is the ability to imagine the world from multiple perspectives and have an attitude that puts people first.
  2. Integrative Thinking---this is the ability to see all aspects of a problem and possible breakthrough solutions. Some of the real world scenarios that I described in previous posts use this understanding.
  3. Optimism ---According to Brown, this is essential because design thinking begins with the assumption that no matter how challenging the problem, a solution can be found. This flies in the face of the systemic cynicism that seems to be pervasive in our societies.
  4. Experimentalism---Solutions can only be found through a process of trial and error that explores problems and possible solutions in new and creative ways.
  5. Collaborators---The idea of the lone creative genius saving a corporation from obsolescence is replaced  with the reality of interdisciplinary collaborators. This fits with the concept of cross disciplinary learning being instituted in the design of irresistibly engaging simulations and scenarios in e-learning that I have described. With respect to collaboration I would also include the concept of developing professional mentor groups as a support for this new generation in their academic pursuits.

Credit: David Castillo Dominici
 If you take the description of the nature of the innovator and compare it with the the traits of design thinkers, you will see the need to further develop these concepts when it comes to the design of effective e-learning. This is part of the re-visioning that is needed. More later.........

1 comment: said...

thanks for a good article. I think transformative pedagogy is a good approach